Every teacher knows that managing a classroom is one of the biggest parts of their job, and doing it properly fosters stronger learning environments. Yet, accomplishing that goal becomes increasingly difficult as class sizes grow. Here we'll discuss tips for managing larger class sizes to help you effectively reach your students.
Groups and Teams
Giving individual attention to each of your students is difficult even in a small class, but doing so in a class of 20-30 students is even harder.
Individual attention reinforces learning and helps manage classroom behavior so you do not want to let it go altogether. Instead, reserve the time you have for individual engagement for the students you think need it most. To more efficiently engage with the rest of your class, try dividing your students into groups or teams.
2. Assignments and Feedback
Using groups or teams to complete in-class assignments is an efficient way to ensure your students are learning and completing their work. Rather than monitoring and providing feedback to 20+ individual students, divide them into groups of three to four. This requires you only to check work on one-quarter to one-third of the assignments you normally would. Yet, you are able to provide more detailed feedback to each group on their work.
3. Collaboration and Teamwork
In addition, group work provides opportunities for collaboration among peers and teaches the value of teamwork. Collaboration and teamwork are strong social-emotional characteristics, which the Committee for Children shows are increasingly important to employers as valuable workplace skills. So, group work not only makes your job easier but also increases learning in the classroom.
4. Behavior and Attention
Dividing your students into small groups also helps manage classroom behavior and attention. With the same principle as in dividing in-class assignments, monitoring behavior in groups of three to four is much easier than having to focus individually on each student. Offering incentives for groups which are the best behaved, most attentive, or most helpful is a creative way to maintain strong class management.
Have a Plan
This perhaps is an obvious point, but having a plan for each class is essential as your class size grows.
1. Preventing 'Dead Time'
Reach to Teach explains that it is important to minimize 'dead time' during class as it often leads to disruption in a large group of students. Before you go to class, know exactly what you plan to accomplish and cover for the day, as well as the sequence in which you intend to do it. Even a few minutes consulting notes or deciding what to do next provides time for students to become disengaged and rowdy. Being prepared for each step of your class time greatly improves your ability to engage and occupy your students' busy minds.
2. Routines and Consistency
Establishing routines also is important to running a productive large classroom. For example, students knowing to start writing their vocabulary words twice before the teacher starts class keeps them occupied and productive, opposed to aimlessly talking to their friends or getting into fights. You also should consider using seating assignments as a way to prevent students from talking and being disruptive while you are teaching. An effective routine also requires consistency to be effective so try not to deviate too often.
Consistency as an important principle also applies to discipline and behavior management. Before the start of each semester or school year, determine your guidelines for discipline and expectations for behavior. That does not require you to be a mean teacher. Students often do not respond well to that. Instead, explain why behavior and discipline are important and stick to your rules all year long. Inconsistency provides leeway for students to disregard classroom rules, leading to a poorly managed class.
Bringing it All Together
Make no mistake about it, the larger your class gets, the harder it is to control and engage. However, if you follow these tips for managing your classroom, you will find that it is possible to do it well. No matter how well you manage your class, though, you should expect that it will be different than the smaller class sizes you may be used to.
First of all, your class likely will be louder than usual, and that is normal for a large class. Yet, loud is not always a bad characteristic. Just make sure your class is loud because they are discussing educational topics rather than gossiping with their friends.
Second, you may feel that you are not able to engage with your students one-on-one as often as you would like. But, you can effectively engage with them in small groups as discussed above. Sometimes this method is just as effective, but make sure you give attention to the students who need it the most.
Finally, expect that certain things always will take a little longer in larger classes. Despite your best efforts to streamline the way your classroom runs, big classes simply take longer to instruct and manage in many ways. But, if you follow the tips and here return to the blog at Study.com for more helpful advice, we know that you will run an effective classroom and create a dynamic learning environment for your students!